July 19, 2009  •  tracy

on “condition”

I’m a new editor and am confused about the use of “condition”. If it is used to describe a strict experimental condition, is only “on condition that” can be used, but not “under the conditions of”? A senior editor tells me that the latter can not be used to describe experimental conditions, and if one really wants to use it, he/she should change the prep. into “on”. However, there is no such saying as “on the conditions that” in a dictionary(Longman). Looking forward to correct explanation.

July 16, 2009  •  lisabedell

“The next stop will be...”

On the DC Metro, we are told: “The next stop will be X”. When will the next stop be x? I’m pretty sure the next stop *is* X!

June 29, 2009  •  Dyske

Word for Showing Off Your MacBook at Cafe — Mac off

Have you noticed that, at trendy cafes, more than half of the laptop computers you see are the new MacBooks? (Well, at least in New York City.) I don’t mean any MacBook; I’m talking about the latest MacBook (”the brick”). In fact, I believe seeing the older versions of MacBooks is rarer than seeing PC laptops. If these people are deciding to work at cafes for practical reasons, then the laptop demographic should be much more diverse, with a lot more PCs and older versions of MacBook, but this is not what I see. The demographic is heavily skewed towards the latest models of MacBook. So, I would have to conclude that the reason why these MacBook owners come out to cafes is because they want to show off their brand new MacBooks. It would makes sense, therefore, to coin a term for showing off your MacBook at a cafe. I’ve struggled with this for a while, and this morning, I decided that it should be “Mac off”. “Hey, honey. I’m gonna go Mac off at the Starbucks for a few hours, OK?” “At a cafe in Williamsburg, I saw about a dozen people sitting in a row Mac’ing off.” “I bought the new MacBook Pro last week, but I haven’t Mac’ed off yet.”

June 28, 2009  •  Dyske

Word for Stroller Toppling Over

If you have a kid and a stroller, I’m sure you’ve experienced this many times. You hang a lot of stuff from the handle of the stroller, and when the kid jumps out of it, the whole thing topples over. One of my friends wants a word for this (a verb). I tried to think of one, but I couldn’t come up with a good one. (”Stropple”, for instance, isn’t so good because the sound of it lacks the impact of the actual event.) Can anyone think of one?

June 15, 2009  •  Dyske

Word for Twitter Whores?

Is there a word to describe a Twitter user who follows everyone in an attempt to get them to follow him? Now, I’m getting a regular stream of them. When you look at their profiles, they have hundreds of followers. It’s just not possible or practical to read that many tweets every day. Obviously they are not reading anything; they just want you to read their tweets. It’s a marketing ploy.

June 10, 2009  •  chris2

Plural proper nouns ending in consonant-y

What about proper nouns as in team mascots? Our school mascot is a Grizzly. Would students be Grizzlies or Grizzlys? Since it’s a school’s mascot I’d like for it to be correct, but for the last 20 years it’s been spelled Grizzlies. I believe that spelling to be incorrect. Academic input please:o)

June 9, 2009  •  egkg

Plural of “insurance”?

I heard an ad on the radio recently for a company that performs medical procedures. At the end they said “We accept all major insurances.” That didn’t sound quite right to me, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard the plural of the word “insurance”. If it were me, I would’ve said “We accept all major insurance plans.” Am I right that there is no plural form of the word? On a related note, I’ve heard, mostly on TV news shows, “damages” a lot. I know that the word exists, meaning a monetary judgement awarded by a court, but they used it when they meant “damage”. For example, “Due to the ice storm, many damages were done to homes,” or “The car suffered severe damages from the accident.” This is improper usage, correct?

June 9, 2009  •  monkey

As of

I am wondering how to use the phrase ‘as of’ correctly. I learnt from my daily email communications with native English speakers that the phrase could mean “from”, “on/at” or “by the end of”. However, the last sense was not found in Oxford English Dictionary or Merriam Webster’s online edition. That made me quite puzzled. Examples may speak louder than theories. “As of yesterday, we had finished three tasks.” Is this usage correct and does it mean the same thing as “by the end of yesterday, we had finished three tasks”? Thanks.

June 4, 2009  •  Dyske

Someone else’s

Is “someone else’s” grammatically correct? Every time I type, the spell-checker reminds me that it’s wrong. There are a lot of discussions online about “passers-by” vs. “passer-bys”. The general consensus, from what I saw, is that the former is more correct. If this is true, shouldn’t it be “someone’s else”? I personally feel that “passer-bys” is more correct, especially when you remove the hyphen (”passerbys”). It’s more consistent with other words like “blastoffs” and “playoffs”.

May 26, 2009  •  richie

“independence from” or “independence to”?

I have a feeling I’ll look at this again in a while and find the answer screamingly obvious. Do these parallel the form of “independent” exactly? As “independence of” seems really wrong, though “independent of” seems ok. I’m confused.

May 23, 2009  •  karlb

My mother wishes my child be like me.

I heard this sentence on radio or TV and while it seems correct grammatically, I believe the verb be is in the subjunctive mode, somehow it did not feel colloquial. Any comments?

May 21, 2009  •  tomolonight

Infinitive without “to”

What is an infinitive without “to”? He need not wait. or He needs not wait. Can you explain more about this?

May 15, 2009  •  Dyske

Peter thins them out

This Japanese program claims that Peter Pan regularly killed children when they grew too old. Here is the paragraph from the original book by James Matthew Barrie: All wanted blood except the boys, who liked it as a rule, but to-night were out to greet their captain. The boys on the island vary, of course, in numbers, according as they get killed and so on; and when they seem to be growing up, which is against the rules, Peter thins them out; but at this time there were six of them, counting the twins as two. The controversial phrase here is “thins them out”. How would you interpret it?

May 14, 2009  •  Dyske

One of the most...

In one of the discussions here, Brian W. tells me that the following sentence is wrong: “This is one of the most common errors people make…” He says it should be: “One of the more common…” He explains: Proper use of ‘most’ requires the size of the set in which the subject is a member: “one of the 10 most.” Without a numeric qualifier, all but the last are potentially included in the set “one of the most.” That (unfortunately) makes it as meaningful as “up to 10… or more!” Now, is this a grammatical issue or stylistic issue? I see “one of the most” being used quite often. As a side note, in Japanese, “one of the most” would be an oxymoron because the concept of “most” implies that it is at the top of the list, that is, there is only one thing that could be “most” or “best”. I remember feeling awkward about the phrase “one of the most” when I was first learning English.

May 7, 2009  •  karlb

“It is one of his girlfriends.”

Heard this in park: Whose car is it? It is one of his girlfriends. If it were just: It is one of his girlfriend’s, or: It is one of his girlfriends’, it might be easier to interpret this sentence. As it was said, there are several degrees of uncertainty involved. Can you guess how many?

May 6, 2009  •  sunghee

Friendly - adjective and adverb?

I thought ‘friendly’ was an adjective, but some dictionary published in Korea says it can be used as an adverb, and another dictionary says it was used as an adverb before the 16th century. Is ‘friendly’ still used as an adverb or is it used only as an adjective?

May 5, 2009  •  tom2

“study of” vs. “study on”

I am working in China helping professors and graduate students improve their journal articles. It appears ingrained in Chinese journal writing to use “study on” a subject rather than “study of.” Some individuals insist on “on” because it is widely used and accepted by some english language publications. Any comments on usage history here or other clarification? My usage history is for “of”.

May 4, 2009  •  drmc

Verb, the process of being

What is it called when a verb is no longer the process of doing, but the process of being something? Is it still simply just a verb? Sorry for the lack of example, it was troubling me late last night, if i still remembered the word, i probably wouldn’t be asking this question.

May 2, 2009  •  brie

Dashes when saying year-olds

I have a question about when to use hyphens. For example, do I have a five-year-old dog or a five year-old dog?

April 29, 2009  •  Dyske

Should the link include the quotes?

When you link something in a quote, should we include the double quotes in the link? For instance: I asked where to look, and John answered, “Wikipedia!” or I asked where to look, and John answered, “Wikipedia!” This is really a matter of style, but I’m wondering if any major sites have a style guide that specifies this.

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